From some perspectives, I must be an incredibly repulsive person.

First of all, I'm very outspoken about being a feminist, which some would say makes me an aggressive, man-hating bitch.

I'm a bisexual woman, which some would say makes me indecisive, frivolous, and incapable of being faithful or monogamous.

I'm an English major who has spent the last four years focusing on popular genres instead of Shakespeare, genres like fantasy, folk tales, and gothic literature, and some would say that this makes me stupid, non-academic, and wasteful of the good money that I've put towards this education.

I'm spiritual instead of religious, which makes me pompous and new-agey. I'm pursuing a career in writing, which makes me silly and unrealistic. And I'm really interested in conspiracy theories and supposedly 'true' sightings of supernatural events, which makes me spacy and impressionable.

And you know what? I don't care.

I used to care. I used to care a lot, to be honest - so much so that I kept a lot of this hidden. I would see feminist posts on Facebook that I agreed with, want to share it, and then decide not to because, "what if they think I'm some sort of over-the-top, man-hating feminazi or something?"

I took classes on more 'serious', academic topics, trying to convince myself to be interested in them. I tried so hard, that when my syllabus for my third year of university was filled with nothing but classes I was actually interested in, I stressed myself out to the point of tears because, "they aren't smart enough". From the way I saw it, the year wasn't complete unless I had at least one class that made me want to rip my brain out through my ears.

And don't even get me started on how long I tried to hide being bisexual. It wasn't until I was twenty years old - only one year ago - that I made the public announcement, because all through high school, I felt like it was something that I should be ashamed of. I felt like it was something that would make me impossible to love, when, really, it was just a part of me. But the way I saw it, even if I somehow found a way to love myself as a bisexual woman, few people would agree with me. They'd look at me and they'd see only the negative stereotypes attached to the word. They wouldn't take me seriously. They wouldn't love me.

Strangely enough, for being the thing that I was probably most self-conscious about, it was also my fears around being bisexual that help me accept my fears around being everything else that some might label 'unpleasant'. Because, you see, there came one day where I was stressing myself out about being bisexual, pulling my hair over the people who would look at me and say "she's a whore" or "I could have a threesome that included her, but I could never love her", and I came to a very simple conclusion: yes, some people might look at me and say that, but are those really the people who I want to impress?

Because here's the thing: the world is filled with all different sorts of people. There are people who have gone through the exact same things I have, and there are people who have no idea what I've been through. There are people who will understand me or at least try to, and there are people who won't. And chances are, at least one of those people who tries to understand me is going to love me. There are too many people in this universe for that not to be true. And when I do find that person (or people, more likely), then that love will be so much more special than any love I tried to forge with someone who didn't know the real me. After all, this someone will love me, for all my faults and quirks. For all the stereotypes that follow me around even if I don't fit into them. And, besides, wouldn't I be much happier with someone who knew I was bisexual and didn't care, than with someone who occasionally made some sort of bi-phobic comment that led me into another spiral of shame and self-loathing?

The change wasn't overnight, but eventually I did come to a place where I knew that I could be loved as a bisexual woman, that my previous fears were completely unfounded and ridiculous. And slowly, one by one, all of my other fears sort of fell away after it.

I am a feminist, and I will say that loudly and proudly. Because I know that I am not a man-hater, that I intend harm to no one. And as long as my actions reflect that, then I think I can rest easily at night knowing that there are still a few people out there who look at me and see someone entirely different.

And I enjoy popular genres more than I do academic genres, and that's perfectly okay. Why shouldn't I? After all, the popular genres are the ones that I want to write in. If I want to focus on them, then as long as I'm not totally ignoring the academic genres and still keeping my mind open to the teachings they have to offer, I don't see a problem.

As I said before, I'm a lot of things that people might find repulsive. And to those people who look at me and see only a stupid, spacy, man-hating whore, I say that that's okay. I'm not here to satisfy you. I'm here to satisfy me - to make me happy in a life that I need to find worth living. And as long as that's true, as long as I'm comfortable in my skin and confident in my ability to go forward in this world, then you can hate me all you want. As we've all heard, time and time again, you can't please everyone.

And the same goes for you, and whatever's holding you back from feeling confident in your skin. Maybe you're self-conscious about that thing that you're a bit too passionate about, or about a habit that you can't seem to kick, or about the number of sexual partners that you've had, but I promise you this - it's okay. Somewhere out there, there is someone who will love you for it, and while that isn't the reason that you should accept it, I understand that it does help in the process of coming to terms with it. So with the knowledge that your soulmate will love you more for who you are than who you pretend to be, allow yourself to be that person. Allow yourself to flourish with all that makes you you, and don't ever apologize for it. Because once you stop feeling ashamed of who you really are, you can start being that magnificent, unique person, and you will be so much happier for it.

Published by Ciara Hall